I’ll tell you what I didn’t do today when making these Caramel Apples. I didn’t touch the caramel while it was boiling away over the stove.
This may sound obvious to you: don’t touch the caramel while it’s boiling. But I did it once.
I actually dipped my left index finger into a pot of boiling caramel. I knew it would be hot, but I wasn’t prepared for how hot. And I didn’t think about how boiling caramel would stick to my finger and prolong the burning.
I’m not being dramatic, here. It hurt beyond words. It throbbed a piercing pain, and I seriously asked Zach, “Do you think I have a third degree burn?”
I didn’t (I don’t think). But I told myself I’d never do it again, that I’d never dip my finger in boiling caramel ever again.
But if I’m being really honest, part of me really wanted to today. Boiling hot caramel looks and smells amazing, and it’s really tempting. I’m sure many have made the same mistake I did. Making homemade caramel is a dangerous undertaking.
But this caramel today was special. It was way better than the store-bought little squares that can sometimes be stale and hard, all individually wrapped. And who actually likes to unwrap 100 little caramels?
This homemade caramel had a base of lots of sugar, heavy cream, and butter, and was enhanced with vanilla, molasses, maple syrup, corn syrup, and salt.
All ingredients were stirred and brought to a boil. And then I carefully watched from a distance as the mixture boiled away.
I clearly didn’t completely learn my lesson, I realized, since I put my head pretty far down into the pot to smell the sweet sticky goodness while it roared away.
Caramel apples are an easy and super rewarding Fall Sunday afternoon project.
Recipes tell you to use tart apples to offset the sweet caramel, but personally I prefer sweet on sweet. I used Honeycrisps fresh from the Kingsfield Market.
And because I love salted caramel everything and anything, I sprinkled these beauties with a little bit of coarse fleur de sel.
Mmm. So good.
Caramel Apples, Adapted slightly from Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson
8 medium sized Honeycrisp apples
1 c sugar
½ c unsalted butter
2/3 c heavy cream
¼ c light corn syrup
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp dark molasses
¼ tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt for caramel
Coarse fleur de sel for garnish (optional)
Line baking sheet with waxed paper. Insert lollipop sticks about halfway into apples. Set aside.
Mix all ingredients together (except apples and fleur de sel) in fairly deep heavy saucepan. Heat over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil and boil until candy thermometer reaches 236 degrees F, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool to 180 degrees F. Coat apples by tilting pan and swirling apples into hot caramel. Let excess caramel drip off and then place apples on baking sheet.
If using the fleur de sel, lightly sprinkle the apples with the salt.